Role of the Metal Oxide Electron Acceptor on Gold-Plasmon Hot-Carrier Dynamics and Its Implication to Photocatalysis and Photovoltaics

Yocefu Hattori, Sol Gutiérrez Álvarez, Jie Meng, Kaibo Zheng, Jacinto Sá*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The recent discovery that metal nanoparticles can generate hot carriers upon light excitation is seen as a breakthrough in the fields of plasmonics and photonics. However, the high expectations for a plasmonic revolution in applications have been dampened by the ultrafast energy dissipation of surface plasmon polariton modes. While research aimed at suppressing loss mechanisms is still pursued, another research direction has emerged where charges are harnessed before they relax. Despite the effort, efficiencies of devices based on hot carriers harnessed from plasmonics are typically very low (a few percent), which is somehow paradoxical since efficiencies for electron injection efficiency have been reported to be in the range from 25% to 40% and hole injection up to 85%. This indicates that the low device performance relates to the undesirable charge back-transfer process, which happens in the picosecond time scale. In this context, we performed a comparative ultrafast spectroscopy investigation with gold nanoparticles in direct contact with different metal oxides, namely, TiO2, ZnO, SnO2, and Al:ZnO. Electron dynamics revealed the decisive role of metal/semiconductor interfaces and semiconductor electronic structure in electron injection efficiency and recombination, with significant implications to the fields of photocatalysis and photovoltaics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Applied Nano Materials
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)2052–2060
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the photovoltaic unit of the Physical Chemistry Division, Department of Chemistry—Angstrom, Uppsala University for the access and support using their material preparation systems. The authors would like to thank Uppsala University for financial support. J.S. acknowledges the support by the Swedish Research Council (nos. 2015-03764 and 2019-03597). K.Z. acknowledges the support by the Danish Council for Independent Research, no. 7026-0037B, and the Swedish Research Council, no. 2017-05337.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • heterogeneous electron transfer
  • hot-electron dynamics
  • metal/semiconductor interfaces
  • plasmon
  • recombination suppression


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